The Festival of Poured Stone
The heroes listened to the Tragedy of Gilvern the Mighty Axe, one of the performances for a contest of arts at the Festival of Poured Stone. The festival celebrates the reclaiming of the Clan Home after it became an active volcano and filled their previous living spaces in the clanhome with lava. The children gleefully played with spark fountains and sparklers, and the adults tended troughs of grits treated to be luminescent, glowing red, fun to play in and eat.
The clan champions were all home for the festival, in from the colonies and pilgrimages. They gathered at a pavilion in the central chamber of the clanhome, relaxing and watching performances and the snow that filtered in through the open hole of the cone far above. (Snow evaporated long before touching down in the clanhome.)
Balgruuf, Rolf, and Brandergriff were at their ease. They were joined by Sarg, Nollaf, and Myrtt. As they watched the festivities, Brandergriff was troubled. He saw humans in the clanhome, in the reserved area of the jarl’s guests overlooking the chamber. Murantell, representative of Lord Talamash, looked sour and had mercenary bodyguards.
Brandergriff strolled over to strike up a pleasant conversation, but Murantell was sour and impatient. Apparently, Murantell could not discuss business with the jarl until 3 days hence, at the end of the festival. The jarl was in isolation for prayer and fasting for the good of his people, and would not be available. Murantell hoped maybe Brandergriff could speak for the thane, but Brandergriff wisely declined, and headed back to his fellow champions.
Doing the math, Brandergriff realized a trade caravan would have had time to reach Astoria and Lord Talamash, and a delegation to be assembled and return. He asked Rolf, a crafter, what might have been in the shipment. Rolf knew it was a massive clock, three times the height of a dwarf, a masterful work by Heyven that cost the weight of three oxen in gold.
If something went wrong with that transaction, that could be trouble indeed.
Something Went Wrong
Gildeth, Chosen of the Gods of Ur, joined the champions and invited them to follow her to meet wit Jarl Gromf. They did, and meet with the jarl at the edge of the Deeps below the clanhome, a reflective walk that was abandoned during the festival.
Gromf was annoyed by having to fast and be in isolation during the festival, where he would normally be among the people. But something happened to the clock they sent to Astoria; it arrived looking like an insultingly shoddy fake. Not only is that insupportable with the clan’s reputation, the clan also cannot afford to make a refund.
Gromf dared not mobilize any military, with the wary humans at the clanhome in force. So he asked the champions to go figure this out and fix it. He gave them a stone that would gravitate towards Heyven’s Master Mark on the clock.
Being tough heroes, they did not need to wait overnight. They geared up, and trudged out into the snowy mountains to track down the missing clock.
At the foot of the Bearkiller orc territory in the mountains, the stone pulled towards the orc lands. The wary fellowship made a shelter and rested after a hard night and morning of slogging through snow in the mountains. Then, they headed on into the dangerous lands of the greenskins, past the gristly post with skulls hanging from it.
Indeed, they ran across a patrol of orcs with a couple tough leaders. Roaring challenge, the dwarves charged the orcs, no quarter asked or given. The slaughter was quick and brutal, and the surprised orcs fell to the dwarven champions. Myrtt picked off the last fleeing survivor as Rolf gusted hot breath standing among a pile of the slain. Rolf chanted a victory canticle and they regained some of their exhausted resolve standing over the dead. Sarg, a fat dwarf, chopped off some limbs to take along as orc snacks as the others looked at him askance.
The Cyclopean Sanctuary of Katrick the Foldmaster
They followed the leaning of the stone to find a valley with a peak at the end. A twisted stone tower was fancifully shaped like an octopoid on an obelisk. The snow did not accumulate on or around the tower. They saw a plinth at the foot of the trail up to the tower, noting it was the Cyclopean Sanctuary of Katrick the Foldmaster. They knew him to be a notorious wizard bandit, wanted in several territories for his daring thefts. He was even able to fold space and relocate his tower, or the settlements of his foes!
Grim, the dwarves approached the tower. In a haze of supernatural blizzard, orc spirits rose up around them and warned them to turn back or they would be subject to eternal servitude. Ignoring the warning, the fellowship continued up to the tower and battered the door open.
The engineers and crafters were disgusted by the almost organic flow of the alien stone inside. Then they were ambushed by more orc spirits, these trying to gnaw their heads and take over their minds. They resisted, the Chosen destroying the attacking spirits with the ferocity of their defiance.
They found Katrick’s bedroom, and stairs up to a weird twisted library that had three massive paintings that served as doors to pocket dimensions; a graveyard, a laboratory, and a jungle with a mansion. The stone pulled towards the mansion, so Brandergriff led the fellowship through.
They landed, and were informed they were now slaves and must turn in their weapons and armor so they could dig ditches, by a bored and massive minotaur that stood between them and the portal back to the library. He was backed up by over twenty leering orcs.
His tone displeased the fellowship.
Rolf led the charge, unloading an incredible amount of physical punishment, biting and striking and even ripping out the minotaur’s nose ring while bashing in one of its eyes! The fellowship backed him up, swarming the shocked minotaur and bringing it down in a mighty crash, a few seconds of breathtaking violence slaughtering the mighty foe.
Some of the fellowship assaulted bystander orcs, but they stayed their hand when the orcs did not counter attack en masse. The orcs were willing to stand aside, and the fellowship asked them where the clock was. The orcs pointed, and as the fellowship followed the path, the orcs leaped through the portal and escaped back to the tower—they were slaves here.
The fellowship reached the mansion on the beach, and Myrtt saw the cunningly worked pivot door, so as the wall swung around the bar could be inside or outside, and the pivoting wall served as an entrance. They confronted some very tough orcs who were inside, lounging around the clock, and the other exit to the mansion.
Rolf showed them the bloody nose ring, and Brandergriff offered to live and let live; they just wanted the clock. The uneasy orcs agreed, and as the crafter and engineer took the clock down to three portable pieces, the rest of the fellowship devised a plan.
Katrick the Foldmaster was in a hot tub on the other side of the windows, judiciously screened from view by the tough orcs. The fellowship knew they needed to return with him, captive and alive. Brandergriff explained to the orcs how they could loot the place and go home, and they accepted his offer and sloped off, leaving their master unprotected.
The party pounced on him, ferocious. He could hardly marshal his magic before he was gut punched and wrassled, his slippery nude body gripped by the tenacious dwarves as they hauled him from his tub. While Sarg looked him over with a lustful gleam in his eye and considered eating him, Brandergriff made his situation clear.
Rolf rinsed off in the surf, then celebrated their victory with a song as Belgruuf built a fire and dried off. They put a robe on Katrick, and hauled him and the clock parts back to the portal, staggering through under their loads.
Back to Boulderloch
The wizard insisted they should not burn the books, as some of them… contained… powers that should not be unleashed. Reluctantly dissuaded from mass arson, the dwarves grudgingly agreed the wizard should not be force marched through the snowy mountains in a bathrobe if they wanted him alive. Some went to get him his clothes, and the ghostly orcs tried once more to possess them, repelled by the stubborn dwarves.
They left the tower, and hiked back to the clanhome. It was a long, brutal journey under punishing loads; soon the wizard was reduced to a load as well, unable to muster the stamina for the forced march.
As they got close, Gildeth went ahead and brought back sledges as Nollaf led the fellowship into the tunnels to avoid public notice with their burdens.
The jarl was delighted to see them. They assembled the clock as he fetched Murantell, who was suspicious at first but then delighted as they agreed to turn Katrick over to him as a prisoner. The representative of the human noble was so pleased by the turn of events that all hard feelings evaporated, and the jarl could even wring out some concessions for the spring caravan.
The fellowship gained an upgrade, and also the clan gained a prestige upgrade for capturing a dangerous and wanted wizard. Plus, there was just enough time left for the jarl to catch the tail end of the festival!